Does Coffee Go Off?
In a perfect world, coffee would last forever. It would mature and develop like a great bottle of wine, giving you better coffee every day. Sadly, this is not the case and coffee, like most food products will eventually go off. Coffee does, however, have quite a long shelf life and usually goes stale rather than decays or rots.
The shelf life of store-bought, ground coffee depends on lots of different factors including temperature, humidity, and storage, but in general, coffee grounds stored in a kitchen cabinet will be fine for three to five months. After this time, the flavor will start to diminish and the taste and aroma will deteriorate.
Many people are surprised to learn that it makes very little difference to the shelf life whether the packaging has been opened or not. What is more important is how long ago the coffee beans were ground.
For this reason, it’s smart to buy coffee from a supplier with a fast turnover. If coffee grounds have been sitting in a storeroom at the back of the supermarket for months before making it to your kitchen, then this will reduce the length of time that you can store it without losing quality and flavor.
Coffee that you grind yourself at home will last about a week when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. As any barista will tell you, it should be used as soon after grinding as possible to enjoy its fresh and complex aromas.
How To Tell If Coffee Is Bad, Rotten or Spoiled?
If you find an old bag of coffee at the back of your kitchen cabinet, you might ask yourself; Is this still okay? Can I use it? It’s not always immediately obvious if the coffee has spoiled. As a rule of thumb, if you’ve had it for more than six months, throw it away. It’s unlikely to make you ill but it definitely won’t taste good.
If you’re not sure how old the coffee is, there’s a couple of very simple ways to check if it’s still okay to use.
Firstly open the packaging and look at the contents. Shake the bag gently and check that the coffee is loose and moving freely. If it is, this is a good sign. Feel the bottom of the package. Are the coffee grounds loose here too? Any lumps or solidification are a clear sign that your coffee grounds are destined for the garbage.
Smell the coffee and be on the lookout for any bitter or unpleasant odor.
If the coffee grounds look, feel and smell okay, then the best way to find out if they’re still good is to brew up some coffee. Once you’ve poured yourself a cup, go for a small sip over a big gulp – just in case you get a nasty surprise!
How Long Does Ground Coffee Last In The Fridge?
Storing coffee in the fridge is not something that I would recommend. For starters, the refrigerator is a damp environment and some of that moisture is likely to penetrate your coffee grounds.
Refrigerators can also be stinky places and storing your onions next to your coffee just isn’t a good idea. There’s no evidence to suggest that storing coffee in the refrigerator keeps it fresher for any longer than at room temperature.
Can You Store Ground Coffee in the Freezer?
Personally, I don’t store coffee in the freezer. I go through the stuff pretty quickly and I buy from a supplier who ships it fresh regularly so it’s just not something that I need to worry about.
I can see circumstances where this might be worthwhile; maybe if you lived in a remote place and could only buy good coffee in bulk, you might potentially benefit from storing it in the freezer.
Storing your product in the freezer will extend the shelf life to approximately two years from the grind date but make sure that you place the unopened package inside an airtight container to ensure that no moisture can damage the coffee.
How to Store Coffee to Extend its Shelf Life
The best way to keep your coffee fresher for longer is to store it in an airtight container. By eliminating air and the water contained in the atmosphere, your coffee can taste as fresh and flavorsome in a month as it did on the day you opened the packaging.
Direct sunlight can also affect the shelf life of coffee so if you use glass or other transparent storage containers, always make sure that you store them in a closed cabinet, away from any source of light.
The very best way to make sure that you have fresh coffee every day is to keep drinking it! Buy good quality ground coffee in small quantities on a regular basis and you should never run into any freshness issues.